housing

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home builders are more optimistic now than they’ve been in several years.

A new survey by the Home Builders Association of Michigan shows improving housing starts and other trends give home builders and remodelers hope that they're emerging from the recession.    He says some markets, like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, are already seeing an increase.

“Trends are all trending upward,” says Robert Filka, the association’s CEO, “We’re very optimistic about the outlook for the industry.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit’s home foreclosure rates are dropping.

Realty Trac reports Detroit now has the 39th highest home foreclosure rate in the country. That's a big change from a few years ago, when Detroit routinely ranked in the top ten.

In September,  Detroit’s home foreclosure rate was at its lowest point since September, 2006. 

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.    He says Detroit’s foreclosure numbers are improving, but he says more than half of Wayne County homeowners are ‘underwater” on their mortgages.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate could soon reach a milestone.

A few years ago the state's foreclosure rate was near the top of the fifty state list.

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says the latest data shows Michigan is poised to drop out of the top ten, possibly by the end of the year.

"It’s still in that top ten…but it’s moving down," says Bloomquist,  "(Michigan) had often been showing up in the top five over the last few years….now it’s moved down to number nine in September.”

Dilapidated homes in Delray near Detroit.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has finished the first round of what’s been called the "world's largest property auction."

The county is trying to get rid of more than 22,000 tax-foreclosed properties by auction. More than 20,000 of them are in Detroit.

But despite the glut of vacant properties, housing prices are headed up in certain areas of the city. Bob Dorsey is chief analytics-officer with F.N.C., which tracks housing prices nationwide every month.

"We've noticed that there are certain neighborhoods that have done extremely well, and others that have are still very flat or even declining," said Dorsey.

Dorsey said many investors see money in an expanding rental market in Detroit, and nationwide. Leaders in Detroit’s downtown and midtown areas say housing demand now out-paces supply there.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate continues to trend lower, but a spike in foreclosure filings may be coming this month.

August marked 22  straight months that Michigan’s year over year foreclosure numbers declined.

In fact, the number of foreclosure filings in Michigan in August fell 41 percent compared to August a year ago.   Also, none of the 20 U.S. cities with the highest home foreclosure rates are located in Michigan.

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says there are signs that the trend may soon end.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s falling home foreclosure rate reached a milestone last month. 

But one analyst expects the second half of the year will see an uptick in homes being repossessed by banks.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate continues to fall dramatically.

Realty Trac reports today foreclosure filings in Michigan fell another 6% last month and are down more than 40% compared to a year ago.

“We’re getting close to now 2 years of a long-term downward trend in Michigan foreclosure activity,” says Daren Bloomquist, who is a Realty Trac vice president.

The White House hosted the LGBT Conference on Housing and Homelessness today in Detroit. It explored various issues lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face when it comes to finding housing or dealing with homelessness. This was one of four such conferences the White House is hosting around the country.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Home sellers in Michigan saw prices drop significantly in the last three months. And one analyst predicts it’s a trend that shows few signs of easing.

Clear Capitol reports Michigan home sale prices between October to January dropped by 5.3 percent compared to a year ago. And the overall trend is even worse.

Alex Villacorta is the director of Research and Analytics at Clear Capitol. He says home sale prices in Detroit were down nearly 12 percent. Villacorta blames the fact that half the homes sold in the Detroit during the last three months had been foreclosed. He says banks sold the repossessed home at discounted prices.

“With more than one in two homes selling as a distressed sale,  it really puts significant downward pressure on home prices," says Villacorta.

Villacorta advises people not to put their homes on the real estate market right now if they don’t have to. But if you're in the market to buy a home, Villacorta has different advice.

“For a buyer, (this is) certainty a fantastic time to buy," says Villacorta, "(With) prices at levels not seen in decades…..with mortgage rates at record low levels it’s a great time to get in.” Villacorta says other markets around the country hit hard by the foreclosure crisis are showing signs of recovery. But not Detroit.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

According to Realty Trac, the number of home foreclosures in Michigan last year dropped to the lowest level since 2007. The actual number of foreclosure filings dropped 26% compared to 2010.   

The decline is partly due to a slowdown in the paperwork process. The average time between the first foreclosure filing and final repossession of a home in Michigan took 283 days last year. That’s a 46% increase over the number of days it took in 2010.  

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says mortgage lenders will be speeding up the pace of home foreclosures this year.  

"We’re past the peak of the foreclosure crisis in Michigan… but the numbers in 2011 were artificially lower than they should have been," says Bloomquist.  

Michigan had the sixth highest home foreclosure rate in the nation last year with one in every 45 homes receiving a foreclosure notice.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new report predicts home prices in Detroit will continue to decline. But the report also finds Michigan home prices overall are stabilizing.   

Real estate industry analysts at Clear Capital predict nationally, average home sale prices will remain relatively unchanged in 2012. Prices nationally have been falling since the housing market crash of a few years ago.   

Detroit’s home sale prices have been declining faster than the nationally average and Clear Capital predicts another 5 percent drop this year.    

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Home foreclosures in Michigan are expected to increase in 2012.    

The pace of foreclosure filings slowed in 2011 as mortgage lenders had to deal with new rules and lawsuits.    

Daren Bloomquist is with RealtyTrac. He said most of the issues that slowed the rate of foreclosure filings have now been dealt with. But Bloomquist said there’s always the chance that new obstacles will arise.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A church on Detroit's west side has become a community developer by building 90 homes over four years and injecting pride and optimism in the neighborhood.

The last batch of new tenants moved in this month. The Rev. Oscar King III says stable housing is crucial if Detroit wants to recover. The homes are near his Northwest Unity Baptist Church.

The Detroit Free Press says there were more than 800 applicants for the homes, mostly two-story colonials. The renters include professionals, low-income families and even the homeless. Jack Bostic Jr. says homes are more important than a church having a fancy place to worship. He says his neighborhood looks like any suburb.

Janet Norfleet says her children pick up trash on their block, a habit that others are following.

Campaign to End Homelessness website

The state is half-way through a ten year project called Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness. The project focuses on “housing first” or “rapid re-housing.” (That means reducing the amount of time people spend in shelters and trying to quickly find them permanent housing.)

Last year the state helped 40,000 people find stable housing.

Janet Irrer is the state’s homeless programs manager. She says housing first is a more humane way to help people make changes in their lives.

“You can’t deal with life in a shelter,” she says. “You can’t reach self-sufficiency there.”

The state is required to focus on housing first programs in order to get federal funding. Irrer says housing first programs are less expensive to run and help the state save money.

Tim Beckett / Flickr

This week, Changing Gears kicks off a look at Empty across our region. During November, we’ll be looking at empty buildings, empty property — and how we can fill things up again.

In the first part of our series, I explore the economic and social cost of emptiness.

Things may be better in some neighborhoods, but problems still abound.

The numbers

Metro Detroit saw a boost in the number of home sales and home prices last month.

The Detroit Free Press reports the September increase came from an active summer selling season:

Sales rose 8.2% in September from 4,222 to 4,568 in metro Detroit, according to Farmington Hills-based multiple listing service Realcomp. The data includes sales from Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Median prices rose 10% from $68,000 last month to $74,900.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported earlier this month about positive home sale numbers around the state, but housing analyst Alex Villacorta with Clear Capitol expected a decline this winter.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s annual conference was held in Toronto this week.  “Greenbuild 2011” was four days of seminars, classes, and discussions about how to construct buildings and homes, using more environmentally friendly methods. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan home sale prices increased significantly during the past three months. But according to a new report, prices are predicted to take another tumble. 

Michigan home sale prices are down dramatically from their pre-recession highs. However, a new report from Clear Capitol says Michigan home buyers have been paying more in recent months.

“Michigan overall is actually up even more so than the Midwest region. We have them up 8.5 percent on a quarter over quarter basis.  But still down six percent from where prices were a year ago," says Alex Villacorta with Clear Capitol. 

But Villacorta says home sale prices nationally appear to have plateaued and he expects they will decline about 3 percent this winter and even more in Michigan, which he says is more volatile than the national housing market.  

Villacorta says Detroit’s housing market continues to struggle and remains one of the lowest performing home sales markets in the country. He blames this on the fact that one in every three homes on the market has been repossessed by banks that are now trying to sell them at far below market prices.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 August saw a big leap in the number of new home foreclosure filings in Michigan.   

2011 was expected to be a record year for home foreclosures in Michigan, but it didn’t happen.  Foreclosure filings slowed at the beginning of the year, as banks scrambled to fix paperwork problems and respond to new government regulations.  But it appears now the tide is turning.  

New home foreclosure filings jumped 36 percent from July to August in Michigan.  

user Bernt Rostad / Flickr

Three Detroit businesses earlier this year began to offer up to $25,000 to encourage their employees to buy a place to live in Midtown Detroit. But the "Live Midtown" incentives have created a new kind of housing crisis in the city: a housing shortage. 

Austin Black is a realtor with City Living Detroit in midtown. He says in 2007 - 2008, the area was flush with unsold units. But he says now many of his clients have become frustrated looking for housing in the area.

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Data released today by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show that through June, home prices nationally were back to their early 2003 levels.

But home prices in Detroit were at pre-2000 levels. The Detroit market was down 6.6 percent when compared to the previous year.

That put's Detroit in a bad category along with some "sunbelt" cities, according to S&P/Case-Shiller:

At the other extreme, those which set new lows in 2011 include the four Sunbelt cities – Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa – as well as the weakest of all, Detroit. These shifts suggest that we are back to regional housing markets, rather than a national housing market where everything rose and fell together.

The Detroit Free Press quoted a statement from Patrick Newport, a U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight:

"Detroit, where prices have dropped nearly 50% since peaking in late 2005, remains, by far, the weakest market,” he said. “Detroit avoided a big run-up in housing prices during the boom years, but was hit hard by the recession."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan home prices are still sliding thanks to banks selling foreclosed homes and short-selling others. Realty Trac reports 40 percent of all home sales in Michigan between April and June involved banks either selling foreclosed homes or short-selling other homes that were on the verge of being repossessed. That percentage is up slightly from the beginning of the year and the same time last year. 

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says the banks sold the homes at about a 40 percent discount. 

“We’re seeing the prices come lower and the discounts go higher, which is good news for buyers.  And it does indicate that the lenders maybe more willing to take a bigger loss on these properties in order to get them sold.”

Bloomquist expects repossessed homes will continue to be a drag on Michigan’s housing market for the next few years.

Ray Gauss II / flickr

Changing Gears is kicking off a new feature. Inspired by Smith Magazine, and possibly Ernest Hemingway, we're asking people to share stories of what the economic transformation of the industrial Midwest means to them. But there's a catch. We want these stories in six words.

Listen to the result of our request for stories about the housing crisis. Take Mary Mary Beth Matthew's submission for example, "2007 bought ex's half, 2011 underwater." Set to music, it's creative, poignant, and even funny.

You can also contribute to our current six word story-your "Plan B."

Six-word poets: Marcus Bales, Amanda Thomas, Becky McRae, Matt Lechel, Christopher Lada, Manuel Magana, and LaGaspa McDougal.

Music by Steve Osburn, produced by Cade Sperling.

Kate Davidson / Changing Gears

Foreclosure activity dropped by more than a third this past year, according to the group RealtyTrac. But despite the national slowdown, regional companies that take care of foreclosed homes are still thriving. Their job is to keep empty houses clean and safe from the forces that depress local property values: squatters, thieves and decay.

Dawn Hammontree probably never expected to see their work firsthand.

The first part of Hammontree’s story is familiar in Michigan. Her unemployment ran out in December.

user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A group of young Jewish professionals attracted to the vitality of Detroit's evolving downtown wants to bring others into the city decades after their parents and grandparents left.

CommunityNEXT Director Jordan Wolfe says the 25 people targeted through a rent program would help return Jewish culture to Detroit and contribute to the city's revitalization.

Subsidies of $250 per month for a year will be offered. Wolfe says he is seeking to bring in people "who get a kick out of building a community."

The rent program piggybacks offers major corporations and businesses are making to entice their employees to relocate downtown or to Detroit's growing Midtown area.

A dodgeball tournament fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday in Detroit and will be followed Sunday by a kickball tournament in Los Angeles.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

There’s a David-and-Goliath story about to play out in federal court in Detroit.

Oakland County Treasurer Andrew Meisner says Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are illegally dodging millions of dollars in taxes. The government-backed mortgage giants were created by the federal government, but they were spun off decades ago as hybrid enterprises with a policy mission and a profit motive. 

Just where Fannie and Freddie sit on the public-private spectrum is the central issue of the court case. And the court fight could be a bellwether for similar battles in other states. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The number of home foreclosures tumbled in Michigan during the first half of the year. One analyst says that’s bad news.  

Realty Trac reports that home foreclosure filings dropped by about 20 percent during the first six months of 2011. One in 74 homes in Michigan received a foreclosure notice between January and June. 

Rick Sharga is with Realty Trac. He says continuing questions about problems with foreclosure paperwork has slowed down the number of properties being repossessed by banks. Federal and state regulators are expected to announce a deal soon clearing major lenders from intentional wrongdoing involving faulty paperwork that mistakenly evicted people current on their mortgages. 

Sharga says the delay in foreclosure filings has slowed the recovery in Michigan’s real estate market. 

 “What over 60% of buyers are looking for right now are bank owned properties or foreclosure properties.   So it might be a little of a ‘Catch-22’ here…where we need a higher inventory of these distressed properties to get the buyers off the sidelines.”  

Sharga says it may take until 2015 to clear the huge backlog of homes in the foreclosure process which will continue to be a drag on the home sale market.

Every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its estimate of how much it costs to raise a child from birth to seventeen years of age.

Here's what they found for their latest Expenditures on Children by Families report:

A middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend about $226,920 ($286,860 if projected inflation costs are factored in) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years.

It represents a 2% increase from 2009, and the report also notes that, naturally, the more money you make, the more you spend on your child:

  • A family earning less than $57,600 per year can expect to spend a total of $163,440 (in 2010 dollars) on a child from birth through high school.
  • Similarly, parents with an income between $57,600 and $99,730 can expect to spend $226,920;
  • and a family earning more than $99,730 can expect to spend $377,040.

Housing accounts for 31% of the cost for raising a child for a family with a middle income.

The USDA first released this report in 1960 when a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 to raise a child (or $185,856 in 2010 dollars).

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There's positive news about the nation's home prices, but that's not  the case in Detroit.  Data released by Clear Capital today suggests home sale prices nationally may be stabilizing.  Home prices lost ground through the winter months, and the latest data shows prices dropped by 2.3% in May.  

But the good news is prices being paid for repossessed homes nationally actually increased last month.   Foreclosed homes have been dragging down home sale prices, but that might be changing. 

Foreclosed homes continued to drag down Michigan home sale prices in the first quarter of the year.  Realty Trac reports nearly 32% of  homes sold in Michigan in the first three months of 2011 were repossessed homes.   

The average price for a foreclosed home was just a little more than $70 thousand.   The price is about a third less than similar homes on the market.  

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